FAQ – US Tax Help for Expats
If you have US tax questions, US Global Tax has answers. We provide valuable tax help to USA expats living in New Zealand and Australia through knowledgeable service and insight. Check out our frequently asked questions below and contact us if you need further assistance.
Is US Global Tax qualified?
Yes, our staff are either IRS Enrolled agents, or in the process of obtaining this qualification. Notably, more IRS enrolled agents are employed by our company than any other organisation in Australasia. Some of our staff are also Chartered Accountants.
What is an IRS Enrolled Agent?
An IRS Enrolled Agent is a Federally Authorised Tax Practitioner, enabling them to represent taxpayers before the IRS, sign tax returns, and provides confidentiality privilege. IRS Enrolled Agents must go through a series of examinations to prove their competency, and also maintain continuing education.
Do Australia and New Zealand have a Tax Treaty with the USA?
Yes, both New Zealand and Australia have a tax treaty with the United States. Both treaties vary in their content, with the Australian treaty being slightly more thorough than the NZ treaty. Both treaties are effective in most cases for reducing or eliminating double taxation.
Is there a $100,000 US tax filing threshold?
Unfortunately, no. This is a very common misconception and arises from the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE), which has a threshold of just over $100K. To claim the FEIE, you must file a tax return. In most cases, the filing threshold for US tax returns is $12,000 but can be as little as $400 for self-employment income.
I don't earn any income in the USA, do I need to file?
Yes, you have tax filing obligations in the United States, regardless of where you live. As the US taxes its citizens on worldwide income, your income—whether earned overseas or in the USA—needs to be reported on a US tax return.
Do I need to come to your offices?
This is entirely your choice. We welcome in-person meetings at our offices. Our clients are based all over Australasia, the US, and further afield, with most working with us remotely through email, telephone, and Skype.
How does US Global Tax file tax returns?
As Authorised e-File providers, we file most returns electronically, meaning you do not need to physically sign the tax return itself. Not all returns are open for e-Filing, and some must be paper-filed. All returns are sent for review to our clients and only filed upon authorisation being granted.
Will I pay US tax as an expat?
Most of our clients don’t owe any tax to the US upon completion of their returns. To get a correct and most beneficial tax liability, it is critically important to work with an experienced professional. Obtaining the correct tax treaty position can be difficult, but is essential in ensuring the lowest possible tax liability. In most cases, less than 1/5 of our clients owe tax.
Are US Global Tax’s fees fixed?
Yes, the first stage of our process is to issue a questionnaire to our clients. With this, we prepare a quote with a fixed fee. This fee does not change, even if we spend longer on the return than we initially anticipated. Many providers advertise a fixed fee but then bill extra if the return takes longer than originally expected. US Global Tax does not bill hourly rates, and therefore this isn’t something which can occur. The only circumstance that our fees change is if a major new item only arises partway through the return process (such as a trust that we were not previously aware of). Other than this, small changes such as new types of income do not affect our fees.
What are US Global Tax’s payment terms?
Our invoices are split between two 50% instalments, one upon signing and one upon completion. Invoices are issued with a two-week due date, and credit/debit card payment is accepted. Alternative payment plans are available upon request. Learn more about our terms and conditions.
Do you provide tax planning and consulting?
Yes, US Global Tax offer tax planning and consulting services. These can be either stand-alone or part of the return preparation process. For any of our clients who owe tax, we offer to set up a meeting upon completion of the tax return, to determine if there is any way to reduce this tax liability through restructuring going forward.
How long does US tax return preparation take?
We generally schedule work to be completed around 3-5 months out from signing. This enables our clients to obtain the information we request, and also sufficient time for completion and senior review before being sent to our clients.
What is an FBAR?
An FBAR is the Report of Foreign Bank Accounts (Form FinCEN 114). This form is used to report the existence of any financial accounts US citizens or Green Card Holders hold outside of the US. As part of this, each bank account number and its corresponding maximum balance at any one time during the year in question is reported. As part of this preparation, our accountants will send you a form to fill in, and list each of your bank accounts, with its maximum balance alongside. There are no tax implications of this form.
Does US Global Tax assist those on a low income?
Yes. Our clients are from a broad range of backgrounds, from high-net-worth individuals to students with wages and interest. Our quoting process does not ask for details of income amounts, and our fees are not based on any client’s level of wealth.
What if I have a Trust or a Company?
Having a foreign (non-US) trust or Company can bring additional complexities to your US tax return. In most cases, additional reporting will be required (Form 3520 & 3520-A for a trust, or Form 5471 for a company). This doesn’t however mean that any additional tax would necessarily be due.
Will you file extensions?
Yes, we file extensions free of charge for all of our clients. These are batch filed at certain intervals during the year.